Travelling has long been associated with historical monuments, places with natural beauty, architectural marvels, culturally rich places, and avenues that offer unique experiences. But in mid of all this we forget some of the places that are always around us, in our cities, or in the cities we travel to. They are libraries, spots enriched with plethora of knowledge, insights, and a kind of mass documentation of everything in this world. As a kid we all have spent some of the other time in libraries, we have been fascinated by books, and bookshelves, so why not hit ourselves with some nostalgia.
In this blog we have listed some of the most beautiful libraries in the world. We agree that the books they might contain might be similar in majority of cases. But the design aesthetics of these libraries make them a must visit spot.
Admont Abbey Library, Admont, Austria
Admont Abbey Library is a part of one of the oldest and largest monasteries of Austria. In fact this library is the largest monastery library in the world. Admont Abbey Library opened its door for the public in 1776, though the monastery that houses it is older. The outside of the Library is designed in the Baroque Style of architecture, while the interiors of the library are adorned by many frescoes. Most of the interiors of this library are in the hues of white and gold which gives it a divine finish.
The most spectacular thing about the Admont Abbey Library is the frescoes on the seven ceilings, which were created by Bartolomeo Altomonte which depicts the different phases of human knowledge. The library also houses sculptures by Josef Stammel from the Baroque period.
The Admont Abbey Library is home to a collection of more than 70,000 books. The lime wood carvings inside the library are also to be watched for.
George Peabody Library, Baltimore, United States
The history of George Peabody Library dates back to 1857, when the Peabody Institute was founded by the popular philanthropist George Peabody. He dedicated the institution to the people of Baltimore in appreciation of their ‘Kindness and Hospitality’. In present times the George Peabody Library is a part of Johns Hopkins University, but any citizen of Baltimore can access this library free of cost. They do not necessarily need to be a student at the University.
Inside the library design and aesthetics feel like if you are in some heritage hotel. It consists of five floors with wrought iron railings and balconies looking over the marble ground floor. The design of the library was created by the renowned architect of Baltimore, Edmund G Lind.
The George Peabody Library is home to more than 300,000 books. Due to the sheer volumes of books that this library houses, it has also earned a nick name of being the Cathedral of Books.
Library of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Library of Trinity College in Dublin is one of the most popular libraries in world. The construction of this library began in 1712, and officially it opened its door to public in 1732. The major highlight of this Library is the Long Room, a section in the old library part, which is a 200 feet long hallway studded with 200,000 rare and old books. The hallway of Long Room is also adorned with marble bust of 14 greatest thinkers like Shakespeare, Aristotle, and Jonathan Swift.
The library was designed by renowned Irish architect Thomas Burgh, and has a great woodwork in the interiors, and a finely carves wooden ceiling. The library is permanent home to the iconic Brian Boru harp which is an inspiration behind the national symbol of Ireland.
The Library is also home to Book of Kells, and a copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. In total the library houses a collection of more than 7 Million Books.
Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany
This all white library in Stuttgart is the most aesthetically pleasing building in our list. Rather than old and grand halls, this one is built with a modernist style of architecture. The design of this library was done by the renowned Yi Architects of Germany. Unarguably this library is one of the most beautiful public libraries in the world. From outside it has a shape of a white cube. The main reading room of the library has the shape of an inverted pyramid.
The design of the library is also believed to be inspired from ancient Pantheon. Some even compare it with the popular step wells of India. The Stuttgart City Library consists of 5 floors and each of them has a open reading room by the sides of the book shelves.
The library opened its door for the public in year of 2011. The visitors of this library love the all the white theme which is dotted by the colors of the covers of the books.
Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic
Starhov Monastery Library sits on a hill, looking over the city of Prague. Many people that visit the capital city of Czech Republic do not know about this spot, but this place is a must visit. The history of the establishment of this monastery dates back to 12thcentury, but the library was built and established in the year of 1679. The highlight of this library is the frescoes that adorn the walls and ceilings of the library. They depict biblical stories and are perfect for people with photography bug.
The must visit section of this library is the Baroque Theological Hall, which is home to many frescoes, old globes, and a vast collection of over 18000 books on theology. The frescoes of this library were created by the renowned artists of that time named Siard Nosecký and Anton Maulbertsch.
The interiors of the library have finely carved wood work that has endured the beat of time. Overall this library is home to a collection of more than 200,000 books.
Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland
You might not have heard about St. Gallen when it comes to top spots in Switzerland, but this small town houses one of the marvels of this world. The history of this library dates back to 719 AD, when it was attached to the Benedictine abbey. But with time the need of larger space for books and manuscripts arose and in mid of 18th century a larger library was built which stands today and was designed by Peter Thumb. The baroque styled halls of this library still enchant the visitors.
In the year of 1983, both the Monastery and the Library were declared as UNSECO World Heritage site. The interiors of the library have intricate wood carvings, wooden balconies, Rococo Ceilings, with books and manuscripts from the Middle Ages.
Unarguably this library is one of the contenders to be the most beautiful library in the world. It houses close to 190,000 collection of books. There is a Greek inscription on the wall of the entrance hall which translates into ‘Healing place for the soul’.
Royal Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, Spain
If your library sighting seeks a royal touch, then you got to head to this one. This library is located in San Lorenzo which is an hour’s drive from Madrid. It is located in the historical complex of El Escorial, which consists of this library, gardens, Monastery, and a palace. El Escorial is also listed as a UNSECO World Heritage Site. It was built by King Philip II in 1563. The entire historical complex consists of 3 libraries, but this one is the best and most beautiful.
Historically this site holds a great importance in the Spanish Renaissance. The major highlight of this library is the seven frescoes in the main hall, which depict liberal arts such as music, astronomy, arithmetic, rhetoric, geometry, amongst others.
The frescoes of the library were created by renowned artists named, Pellegrino Tibaldi and Federico Zuccaro. It is estimated that it houses more than 40000 volumes of books.
Tianjin Binhai Library, Tianjin, China
Tianjin Binhai Library is located in the Binhai District of Tianjin metropolis. In simple words if thios library was to be defined it would be when modern design meets the tradition of books. This library is designed by Dutch Architectural Design firm MVRDV. The Tianjin Binhai Library was inaugurated in 2017. Back then it received around ten thousand visitors every day, and even now in present times it continues to be a top tourist attraction in Tianjin.
One of the highlights of Tianjin Binhai Library is the white spherical auditorium which is placed in the centre of the complex, is also known as Eye of the Binhai. The spherical auditorium is also visible from park outside through an eye shaped window, which gives it a resemblance of iris.
It has capacity to house around million books but only has around 200,000 stocks of books. The shelves which are inaccessible do not have books but printed images of the spines of actual books.
Wiblingen Monastery Library, Ulm, Germany
It is a much obvious fact by this list that European Monasteries houses some of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and Wiblingen Monastery Library sets the bar high. The Wiblingen monastery was built in the year of 1093, though the library that stands today was established in the year of 1744.It was designed by renowned artist, Christian Wiedemann. The interiors of this library are designed in Baroque Style of architecture, and are adorned with frescoes.
The pillars of this library feel like to be that of pink and blue marble, and statues feel like to be that of porcelain and gold. Apart from the floor and ceiling, rest of the interiors is painted wood, which is built in the trompe l’oeil style, which means Optical Illusion in English.
The design of library which stands in present times, at the site was inspired by, El Escorial from Spain and Abbey of Saint Gall from Switzerland.
Mafra National Palace Library, Mafra, Portugal
Mafra National Palace Library is situated in the Royal Palace of Mafra in Portugal. The library was built in 1755 under the rule of King Joao V, and designed by renowned Portuguese architect, Manuel Caetano de Sousa. This rococo masterpiece has 88 meter long hall with white, grey, and rose marble floor. Besides intricate ceilings, the library also has fine wooden work. During day time the library is flooded with bright natural light passing through the windows.
The interesting thing about this library is that apart from plethora of workers that work every day for the Maintainence of this library, there is also a colony of bats that is employed here. These bats work as a natural pest control against all the book damaging insects.
It is estimated that around 36,000 leather bound books with origin ranging from 14th to 19th century are housed here. It is also home to forbidden books that were granted permission by pope to be stored.
Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading Library was built in 1837 by a group of Portuguese immigrants who wanted to promote their culture, and bring literary traditions of their country in to Brazil. However it was in 1887 that the doors of this library were officially opened for the public. The library was designed by renowned architect Rafael da Silva e Castro in Neo Gothic Style of Architecture. The exterior of the library is built in limestone and is inspired by Jeronimos Monastery of Lisbon.
From the inside it has stained glass windows in white, red, and blue colors. When light passes through them, they become spectacular. There is also great amount of dark wood work in the side, with wooden arches. The altar is in silver, ivory and marble. The chandelier in the middle of the hall looks just royal.
It is estimated that library is home to more than 350,000 volumes of books. This library is also the home of largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal.
Tama Art University Library, Tokyo, Japan
Tama Art University Library of Tokyo was built in 2007, and was designed by renowned firm Toyo Ito & Associates. The sleek structure of this library resembles a vaulted wine cellar. The interiors of the library make use of lots of light which is flooded inside from the windows. It has a open floor plan and the mono chromatic décor of the library makes it strikingly unique. The first floor of the library complex is a open space that is meant for art exhibitions.
The library might look unconventional but is a great spot as a academic library. The library is a great spot for Research and studies into design and creative arts, as stated by the University. It might have minimalist design and even computers in main flooring, but is no less classic than traditional libraries.
It is estimated that the library is home to a collection of more than 100,000 volumes of books. It you are an architecture lover then this library should definitely be on your bucket list.
A reader and a traveler lives a thousand lives!